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5 reasons why Canva is hurting your social media

5 reasons that Canva and Adobe Spark are hurting your social media

5 reasons why Canva is hurting your social media

First, let me be clear. I love Canva. This tool has revolutionized the ease and accessibility of making professional graphics. I use Canva. I have many clients who use Canva. It saves time and gives any business or organization the opportunity to look slick with graphics. For sure, there is a place where Canva makes life easier for your marketing needs.

Having said all of the above, let’s be clear on an important point: Too much can be bad. What’s even worse on social media is that it can entirely detract from the advantage and uniqueness of social media. This is where tools like Canva have become a distraction for so many environmental amd outdoors organizations. The proliferation of graphics in posts has become visual pollution. Look at your favourite conservation organizations’ Instagram feeds: For some, it appears that they are now in the business of graphic-making. When it comes to nature, that’s a bad strategy.

What happened to the nature?

If you’re in the business of conservation, nature is your easy — and most relatable — content source every day. Or you can sit at a desk all day making graphics. Pro tip: Humans connect with nature, photos of nature, animal photos, landscape photos, etc. They don’t connect with graphics. Humans read graphics. That’s it. End of story.

Here are five reasons why using Canva is hurting your brand’s social media efforts:

Humans don’t feel, listen or hear graphics

If you make and sell widgets, your social media should have photos/videos of widgets, photos/videos showing people making widgets, behind the scenes photos/videos of widget-making, photos/videos of employees talking about widgets, etc. Widgets and people are YOUR unique content. Graphics about widgets all day every day don’t allow audiences to Feel, Listen, See and go behind the scenes and get to know you and your organization. Never forget: social media is about getting people to become fans of you and what you do. Graphics don’t accomplish that. Graphics are only meant to provide supplementary support to that effort on an occasional basis. You will never build real authenticity through graphics.

People connect with people

There’s a reason why human faces have been used in advertising for 100 years. Humans connect with faces and eyes. Humans rarely connect emotionally with clipart and graphics. One of my favourite industries to follow on social media are the big outdoor adventure brands. These brands get it: Their social media channels are all about immersing audiences (their fans!) in the experiences that they love to do too! That means plenty of photos showing hiking in the mountains, canoeing on lakes, camping, epic wilderness sunsets, etc. These brands know and recognize that graphics have little space in this approach.

Get outside!

Graphics take hours to create. Sometimes, a lot of hours. Do you really have the staff time to have someone work on a tiny graphic for Facebook that takes four hours to make, and generates three Likes? (Pssst! Instagram and Facebook algorithms penalize the reach of graphics too.) On the flipside, it can take a few minutes to snap a photo or record a video and upload it to social media. Which one do you think will be more effective? Again, if you’re in the business of making widgets, you can do one of  two things: 1. Stay in an office and create fancy graphics about widgets, or 2. You can grab your smartphone, leave your office and go to where the widget-making is happening and photograph/record the type of content that better shows what you do or what you’re all about.

Graphics aren’t beautiful

Yes, colourful graphics and fancy fonts can result in beautiful eye-catching graphics. Some folks (probably ones that don’t use social media) will go ooh and awe over them. But these people are not the audience for your social media. You know what’s beautiful on social media? A photo of someone hiking up a rugged lush trail through giant moss-covered redwoods. You know what’s not beautiful? Trying to tell people they should try doing that, by depicting it in a graphic with clipart trees and trails and fancy lettering that says Go Hiking! You need to intimately understand what creates an emotional reaction within humans and compels them to say “I want to do that!” Pro tip: It’s not graphics.

Stop the telephone pole poster approach

This has become a plague on social media. Everyone announces events by posting (you guessed it!) posters on social media. Hint: If you’re having a wine and cheese gala, use photos of people enjoying wine and cheese! You can put details of the event in your post, or drive people to your website where the details are, which is what you should be doing as part of your social media to website ecosystem. Social media is about visuals. Sadly, some businesses and organizations still believe that on social media, a visual includes a graphic, poster, flyer, etc. OK, I get it. Sometimes these get posted out of necessity. But it’s doing it over and over again that is a fail. And, as channels like Facebook and Instagram increasingly crack down on this form of spammy visual pollution clogging users’ newsfeeds, your strategy of overusing graphics will be an engagement disaster in the making.

Don't let graphics overwhelm your social media

How you can start to fix the problem
Summary: Overuse of graphics in social media posts is causing organizations and businesses to lose focus about what content makes them unique and attractive to audiences. Moderation is essential. And that doesn’t mean a content posting blend of 50% graphics and 50% photos and videos is acceptable. Graphic should be on the low end. Demand it. How to fix it: If your social media channel’s content is polluted with graphics you need to call a meeting, put someone in front of a flipboard, and have people in the room call out all the things that make you unique (what you do, where, how) and what audiences like about what you do and what you offer (ie. experiences!). Write down the words. You’ll end up with lots of words. Bingo! Now go and get the photos and videos that show those words in authentic real-life action. It’s not complicated. They call it social media for a reason. It’s not called graphic media.



Gregg McLachlan
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Comments: 3

  • Neil
    January 26, 2018 2:32 am

    I understand the point you’re making about only graphic intensive photos. However a lot of people now are taking photographs of actual people AND then using Canva and other tools to make the captions prettier and stuff.

    Adobe spark even helps make decent video stories.

    I don’t think Canva and Spark are ruining the experience. They’re improving the experience with beautiful posts.

    What’s ruining it is Graphic makers who do nothing other than graphics.

  • Rachel Marcelle
    October 4, 2018 12:14 am

    Nice post, got some valuable suggestions for it. I agree with the last comment that incorporating original pics into the apps to create content is a great idea and way to present as well.

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